Do you know where this house is? The annotation says “The Dean Smith House,” and it is signed by Margaret Hoyback or Margaret Hoybach, the last letter isn’t clear.
An audience member at a recent talk I gave sent me this photo of this house and asked me if I could find its location. She bought the painting some years back in a little shop in Fayette. The seller said she’d bought it at an estate auction in Columbia, which is why we think it might be a Columbia home.
City directories – no luck
I put on my researcher hat and checked the Columbia city directories for 1981 and 1982
I found a Dean Smith, but he lived on Bonny Linn Drive and none of the houses on that street look anything like the painting.
I checked everyone listed as D. Smith, hoping it might be someone using his or her initial in the directory. No luck.
Researcher note: City directories can be a great source of historic information. The directories list every person by last name, first name. Lists of the streets are in another section with every resident listed under each street. For example, if you want to know who lived in your house in 1983, you can simply look up your street in the city directory.
The Columbia Public Library has city directories dating from 1936-2017, with some gaps in there. The books are in the reference area.
Telephone books – no luck again
I checked the telephone books and again, no one with the name Smith lived on a street with homes that looked like that. I took the addresses with Smith and Googled them to see what the homes looked like on those streets. It was old-school research using real paper telephone books from the 1980s combined with today’s technology which lets you see what a neighborhood looks like.
Researcher note: Telephone books can be a peek into history when people listed their address and telephone number is publically accessible published formats. The Columbia Public Library has telephone books from 1955 to 2013. The 1955 volume is 150 pages.
Google stuck out
I Googled it from every angle I could and I finally found a Dean Smith — as in a dean at the University of Missouri named Smith.
Not so fast. After some researching, I learned that Dean Smith didn’t become a Smith until 1986. I found an obituary of her husband noting their marriage date of 1986. That means it is unlikely that Dean Smith, Bea Litherland Smith, the 2018 Athena International Leadership Award winner, is the right person.
Google turned up an artist by the name of Margaret Hoybach, but she’s headquartered in South Carolina. I did send her an email because the painting does look like her work. However, her website says she focuses on the East Coast, and Columbia doesn’t qualify for that. However, I’m hoping that Dean Smith, whoever he or she was, might have been a friend or family member and she did the painting out of kindness.
Can you help find the location of this house?
So now I’m hoping someone can look at this picture and let me know where it is. Come on social media, I’m rooting for you to help us find the story behind the Dean Smith House.